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Security Scenario in NE India : Response thereof Securing Asia 2013

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Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, IPS, Addl. D.G. of Police, (Administration) Assam, India

Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, IPS, Addl. D.G. of Police, (Administration) Assam, India

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  • 1. Presented by: Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, IPS Addl. D.G. of Police, (Administration) Assam, India
  • 2. • The NE, comprising the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura , Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya is perhaps the most heterogeneous region of India with 250 social groups and more than 175 languages . • Only 2% of the landmass is connected with India and the rest of the boundaries which is more than 4500 km international border is shared with South and South East Asian countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. • The whole region is connected with the rest of the country by a tenuous 22 kilometer land corridor through Siliguri in the eastern state of West Bengal—a link that came to be referred to as the ‘chicken neck’.
  • 3. • North-east India is one such conflict zone where some armed rebellions go back to the days of colonial period. • In the post-independence period the first major challenge to the Indian State as one unified nation had come from the North-East (NE) India- a region, which is a conglomerate of seven (now eight with the inclusion of Sikkim) predominantly tribal states.
  • 4. • The sheer number of armed rebel groups in the region is extraordinary. According to one recent count, there are as many as 90 armed rebel groups. • Manipur State tops the list with forty such organizations, six of which are banned, and in addition there are nine “active” and twenty-five “inactive” rebel groups. • Assam is next on the list with thirty-four rebel groups: two of which are banned, with six active and twenty-six inactive armed groups. • Meghalaya has four armed rebel groups, of which three are active and one inactive. • Mizoram has two rebel organizations and both are listed as active. • Nagaland has two active and two inactive groups of rebels. • Tripura has two rebel groups that are banned, in addition to one active and twenty-two inactive groups. Only Arunachal, according to this count, has no armed rebel organization.
  • 5. • Insurgent groups begin their anti-state movements with avowed ideological and political pinning, only to stray into a mould of extortionists and gun-running bandits. • The battle between the state and the non-state actor gets converted into a war of attrition where civilians living in the conflict zone are frequently used as pawns and asylum-givers at gunpoint by the non-state actors and as informants and collaborators by the security agencies. • Many contemporary struggles are also characterized by inter-ethnic group conflicts. • While socio-economic reasons cannot be undermined, the easy availability and proliferation of small arms has become a determining factor.
  • 6. • First is the secessionist or exclusivist type. United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), NSCN (I- M) etc. want to establish independent homelands. • The second type is autonomist in character. Assam movement from 1979-1984 was a non violent way of redefining the relationship between the centre and the periphery. In addition, there are many insurgent groups who want to redefine their relationship within Indian union as an autonomous state or as a separate state or demanding district council within the existing system. The Bodoland, the tribal movements in Tripura and in Karbi Anglong etc. are some of the examples of this type.
  • 7. • Struggles for domination by one group over the other is another type. The Bodos versus the mainland Assamese, the Nagas versus Kukis and Nagas versus the Meiteis in Manipur and Nagaland , the Karbis vesus the Dimasas, Karbis versus Kukis are some of the examples of this type. In many of such inter tribal clashes it leads to massive killing and displacement. • There are intra-tribal clashes which also lead to violence in the region. The Nagas for example are fighting not only against the Indian State but also against themselves for dominance and power. The Bodos have significant differences that led to the killing of many Bodos from 1996- 2000. • There could be another category – those who are fighting for a an autonomous state within constitution of India under article 244 A. The Karbis and the Bodos are demanding this status from time to time.
  • 8. • There are some movements which seek to gain some benefits within the Indian constitution such as recognition as the SC and ST. In recent times groups like Chutia, Koch-Rajbangshi, The Adivasis, the Ahoms and the Motok and Moran are demanding ST recognition. • There are some movements which are irredentist in character. The demand for “Nagalim” encompassing the territories of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh is the best example of this type. The Bodos in Assam are also encroaching reserved forest land and forcing people to leave in the Bodoland area so that they can form one homogenous homeland in the area. • However these movements are not mutually exclusive in their character. Many of violent movements are successfully co-opted and settled within Indian union like that of the Mizo movement. Even groups like NSCN are now negotiating for a “special Federal relations” with India. Many of the groups referred above are having “suspension of operations” with the Ministry of Home Affairs, GOI. • Needless to say that the common referent point for all the movements is the Indian State from whom they want to derive maximum allocation of resources and benefit
  • 9. • Violent conflicts emanating from terrorism and insurgency are declining or they have been reduced to near irrelevance. A vigilant role by the SFs would always keep them at bay. • Northeast security scenario is being increasingly influenced by a different set of emerging conflicts with potential of violence.
  • 10. • Struggle over identity have of late taken the forms of ethnic cleansing. Quest for peace in the Bodo heartland in Assam seems to be an un-ending chimera. The area has witnessed a saga of ethnic-hostility, wanton killing, destruction and displacement. In 2008, clash in the two northern districts of Darrnag and Udalguri claimed nearly 70 lives and displaced over 2 lakh people. • In 2012, more than 100 people were killed and 4,85,921 people displaced in the Bodoland Territorial Council area. The Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) area, popularly known as the ‘Bodoland’, is one of the most violence-ridden areas in post independence period of India.
  • 11. • Insurgency fatigue on the one hand and a perception of deprivation on the other have made the conflict pockets to explore new modes of protest. • The self-proclaimed Maoists in Manipur like the PLA and their co- brothers in the form of UNLF are not really mass-based while the Maoists in Assam tend to be adopting a mid-way between the PLA model and the mainland model of mass-based violent protest. • While the discernable abhorrence of the civil society of the Northeast towards violence has helped the state governments to contain the guns of the insurgents, new modes of democratic violence seem to be getting legitimacy.
  • 12. • The dichotomy between the local and the immigrant Muslims has become more polarized. • Second, there is a tactical alliance between the Bodos and the Non-Bodo indigenous groups such as the Assamese speaking, the Rabhas, the Koch- Rajbangshis and the Adivasis who were otherwise fighting with each other for space and identity till 1998. • Religious Minority leaders such as Baddruddin Ajmal of All India Democratic United Front (AIUDF) and All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) have succeeded in bridging the gap between the local Assamese Muslims and immigrant Muslims. • The issue of updating of National Register of Citizen and more pronounced political assertions by the immigrant Muslims lately, the polarization will further precipitate.
  • 13. • The evolution of the response of the states had undergone varying processes over the last several decades, which has finally resulted in rendering most of the insurgent groups nearly irrelevant. Year 2006 Year 2007 Year 2008 Year 2009 Year 2010Year 2011 542 405 72 320 584 492
  • 14. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 0 128 103 187 117 25 127 133 88 44 32 12 103 152 145 196 63 18 54 46 47 48 39 4 41 57 66 74 65 13 6 11 21 32 2 0 12 15 22 3 2 0 Encounter Explosion Attackon pol/civilion Extortion Kidnapping Arson The picture has become even more brighter in Assam in the years 2012 and 2013; the civilian casualty figure has become almost nil.
  • 15. ULFA–NDFB AND THE FOREIGN HAND • Operation Bajrang - 27/28 Nov.1990 • Operation All Clear - Dec 2003 (Bhutan) • Major arms haul - 2004 in Bangladesh • Shifting of nerve centre of arms smuggling from Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh to Myanmar • Nexus of Myanmar Army with UNLF by ULFA for arms smuggling from Myanmar • Renewed nexus of ULFA with KIA
  • 16. Current ULFA Focus Major arms conduit facilitating the pursuits of Blackhouse, WUNA, TLC and NORINCO --- the China angle?
  • 17. REHABILITATION OF MILITANTS • Surrender Process started in 1992 • Total surrenders till date – 13999 • Surrender Scheme of GoI for Northeast militants became effective from 1st April 1998 • Surrenders from 1st April 1998 to 31st March 2005 – 6393 • Scheme was revised w.e.f. 1st April 2005 • Surrenders from 1st April 2005 till 30th April, 2012 – 3786
  • 18. • Facilitating a peaceful atmosphere by preventing ‘direct violence’ by taking people as stakeholders, involving civil society in the Conflict Resolution process, promoting a culture of dialogue, by respecting Human Rights, creating a ‘peace climate’ where issues and grievances of the people and social groups can be democratically and peacefully resolved. Project Aashwas, an Assam Police Project
  • 19. Response • The unified command structure with equal partnership of Army and Police/CPMF in operational activities with special focus on human rights and rule of law has helped while neutralizing the threats. • The efforts of the state of Assam with the proactive collaboration of GOI in enlisting the support of the neighboring countries at various levels has yielded results. - Operation All Clear by Royal Bhutan Army - Bangladesh government’s proactive drive against NE rebels - Denial of sanctuaries despite internal constraints by Myanmar to NE rebels
  • 20. Two-fold role of the Police There are two dimensions in which police needs its preparation : - 1) Physical and Coercive apparatus 2) Ideological and Sociological apparatus Physical and Coercive Apparatus • Sophisticated Weapons • Police infrastructure • Adequate manpower • Proper Training --- Securing critical infrastructure, cyber savvy orientation and soft skill are priority. We are just adequate in lawful interception ,CDR analysis and IMS etc. • Communication and net working • Re-vamping police stations into-normal police investigations and other specialized forms of crime and violence—This is a major challenge as we discover the importance of civil orientation. --- Incorporation of better explosive detection capabilities required.
  • 21. • Get Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar as national and international partners for development and anti-terror network • Dismantle insurgency networks in all these countries by focusing on arms proliferation, narcotics, FICN and camps of NE groups • Address NSCN and mother of all small insurgencies in NE India will automatically get addressed. • Co-option of insurgent leaders into the democratic process in a very careful manner • Administration of ceasefire ground rules is crucial
  • 22. STRATEGY TO COMBAT NEW CHALLENGES • Diplomatic pressure on Myanmar • Augmentation of Indo-Myanmar and Indo- China Border Security • Special attention in Bangladesh & Nepal • Effective mechanism in Dimapur & Aizwal to prevent arms smuggling to other parts of the country • Firm and focused CI OPS under unified command • Plugging the entry and exit routes to Bangladesh & Myanmar • Choking the supply line of ration and other essential commodities • Curbing the fund flow to the militants • Effective mechanism for prompt and real time intelligence sharing • Increasing surveillance on sleeper cells of Maoists and Jihadists • Effective media management • Strengthening community liaison programmes
  • 23. Ideological and Sociological apparatus (ISA) • What we are witnessing today is fiercely assertive Civil society, Media and NGOs who want to fight over the issues of entitlements. • Issues of governance, land allotment, rehabilitation, displacement, and transparency in administration, people’s participation, and community resources have become more crucial than before. People want development—but have started asking critical questions –“development by whom, for whom, who will be the beneficiaries and at what cost”. • Movements that have addressed these people’s issues have become more popular and sustainable in comparison to the armed groups who have perennially neglected these issues for a dream of independent Sovereign homeland. Except perhaps in Manipur, insurgency is waning in almost all the states in the region.
  • 24. THANKS